Wayne Rooney- one of the most prominent English football players of recent years, and a staple in the national side. Despite his high status, lately momentum has been building on the ‘anti-Rooney’ movement as fans no longer think he’s up to the standard that international (and in some cases Premier League) duty requires.
Some may think this criticism is harsh and undeserved as he is heralded for his goal-scoring ability and records at both club and international levels, but recently he has taken a less offensive role and dropped deeper into midfield, reflected in the fact that his last non-penalty goal in a three lions shirt came in a friendly against Australia back in May. Even against Malta in their World Cup qualifying match none of his 177 touches were in the opposition’s penalty box, which begs the question: what is Rooney’s actual role?
The current England squad is relatively young- after Hodgson handing the likes of Tottenham duo Dele Alli and Eric Dier their first international caps in 2015-which may be one of the contributing factors to Rooney’s fall from favour. Due to the change in managerial appointments and lack of much experience on the players’ side, could it be time to reinvent the whole England ethos?
This could be the perfect opportunity to create a new set up on the pitch. Instead of Rooney captaining an uncertain side that plays “boring” football and just about scrapes wins, introduce a new wave of English footballers who are taught a certain style of play so they form a cohesive unit.This development wouldn’t necessarily mean dropping Wayne completely, but bringing him on as a substitute for a specific role would be a much more effective use of his skill and energy.
As Southgate has already shown in the draw against Slovenia he isn’t afraid of leaving the big name on the bench to start, so it might just be a sight we’ll get used to. When the time comes for his retirement we might even see a return to the dugout, but in a slightly different capacity…